I was having a conversation with a young teenager the other day, and we were talking about the people who were working at one of the UK Ellel centres and the way they were very helpful. Suddenly the lad, who doesn’t really consider himself to be a believer yet, came out with the comment “all Christians are nice people actually – well most of them are”. I was quite surprised to hear this from him, and somewhat amused too. Inevitably I started wondering who he was referring to as being perhaps ‘not nice’, but the conversation moved on and I didn’t pursue that train of thought.
However, the observation from my young friend struck me as quite significant. It meant that in his limited experience, he had observed something about Christians which was noteworthy. It hadn’t yet led him to faith, but it had stimulated a process of thinking in him, which we hope will one day open the door to Jesus.
In Matthew 22, Jesus instructs His disciples with two commands from the Old Testament. Firstly, He reminds us of the obligation to love God (Deuteronomy 6:4), and then He goes on to direct our attention to those around us, whom He calls our neighbours. (This is taken from Leviticus 19:18). The parable of the Good Samaritan expands this, in Luke 10, as doing good to those who don’t love us, and maybe are even our enemies. In other words, we’re to love everyone, not just our fellow-believers. Our behaviour towards them will show them that we are Jesus’ disciples, which should make an impression on them.
Somehow my teenage friend had detected that there was something different in the attitude of those believers he’d encountered, which had made him think. I wonder if our Christian living in love is also remarkable to those around us? Do they think we are ‘nice’ people too? Do they recognise the love of God in the way we behave, the way we serve others, and the attitudes we exhibit in everyday life? We never know when we’re being watched by the most unlikely of observers, and what they may be thinking in relation to what they see.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help us by Your Spirit to live a life of love towards others that can be recognised as coming from You, so that not-yet believers may be helped towards personal faith in You. Amen.